Africa: We Must Prioritise Women-Centred Innovations – First Lady

First Lady Jeannette Kagame, on July 19, highlighted the need to prioritise innovations that centre on women and address the overlooked obstacles hindering their empowerment, whether in technological advancement, agriculture, advocacy, policy-making, or microfinance.

She was speaking at the closing session of a side event of the Women Deliver conference themed “Scaling Innovative Solutions to Enhance Women’s Access to Finance”. The event was organised in partnership with the African Union.

The First Lady further stressed the importance of demanding women’s involvement in industries that drive development and leveraging policy changes to facilitate progress in these areas, asserting that bringing financial autonomy to all women begins with the people, the will, and the means.

She noted that every day of financial inequality is a day of injustice that could have been avoided, as its effects extend far beyond the scarcity of means experienced by some women.

“For many women,” she said, “financial dependency on the man or systems of social assistance means being at the mercy of patriarchy, being powerless to their own outcomes.”

The First Lady also acknowledged the commendable efforts of the African Union and African Development Bank in advocating for policies that promote financial inclusion for women and youth.

She said they facilitated the funding and development of innovative financial solutions, adding that through risk-sharing mechanisms and gender lens investments, they fostered more inclusive investment and crowd-sourcing opportunities for women, including those who were previously unbanked.

“Let us reclaim our spaces and our rights to inclusion. Let us leave no one behind as to craft sustainable solutions. And to all our “he for she”, do not settle for low expectations for women,” she remarked.

Malado Kaba, the Director of the AfDB Gender of Women and Civil Society Directorate, emphasised the importance of investing in women and empowering them, stating that this brings significant benefits to productivity, economic growth, and overall development.

She stressed the need to continually emphasise this point to everyone.

Kaba further acknowledged the prevalence of women’s involvement in informal economic activities and called upon policymakers to take more substantial actions to facilitate the transition of women from the sector to the formal one by understanding the specific needs of women, and fostering a people-responsive and people-centered institution.